Shantesh Row, Chief Creative Officer and Awards judge talks about trends in Sports Photography and what images he’s looking for


We are very fortunate to have an assembly of industry experts for the Spotlight Awards, one is Shantesh Row, Chief Creative Officer of Slant Agency in Dubai, our Sports photography judge. He talks us through what brought him onto the panel of the Spotlight Awards, the current trends in Sports photography and what he will be looking for when deciding the winner.

Shantesh Row, Chief Creative Officer, Slant Agency

Production Paradise: Could you give us some insight into your background and your journey to becoming a Chief Creative Officer at Slant?

Shantesh Row: As a child, words fascinated me. I had a natural talent for wordplay, elocution, debates and quizzing – so post-college (where I majored in Accountancy and Economics) – I changed tracks and ventured into the creative field. Advertising became a calling and I’ve been in this field since 1998. My core skill is as a Copywriter, but over the years one has dabbled in every aspect of communication for hundreds of brands, including Art Direction. I have worked across many agencies in Mumbai, India and Dubai, UAE. In 2015, having done 17 years of working for others, I realized I wanted to build something for myself; so I began the journey as an entrepreneur with the launch of Slant Agency in Dubai, where I direct and envision the creative process for the agency and our clients.

Production Paradise: What made you want to be a judge on the panel?

Shantesh Row: I had followed the 2018 Spotlight Awards, and had loved seeing the quality of the entries. So I was keen on being a part of the process of actually selecting the winners. I firmly believe that as a jury the process teaches you many new things and one gets to learn from the participants and their entries from around the world. Eventually, this helps one upgrade one’s knowledge base. So, it was natural for me to be interested in being a judge. Thankfully, Production Paradise was kind enough to invite me to be one!

Production Paradise: What is it about Sports Photography that appeals to you? 

Shantesh Row: Sport is life encapsulated in a moment. In that one moment, everything crystallizes into the finest example of human endeavour. Passion, hard work, perseverance, the fight to win, the effort to be the best, pride. Nothing captures this emotion better than a picture taken from the field of sport.

Production Paradise: What are some of the trends that you see in Sports imagery?

Shantesh Row: Most of the best sports photography is all about capturing that split-second once-in-a-lifetime shot. The click that gets to the heart of the sportsperson’s emotion is one that usually lets us feel what s/he is feeling in that moment. The pain comes through, the tears come through, the achievement comes through. I think some of the trends currently look at how to use technology to capture this essence of emotion. So you see back button focus being critical. Drones and motion technology is also driving new image experiences. The technique is critical in sports photography, so this is being married more with cutting-edge technology. The goal, I believe, is to let sports photography bring athletes and sportspersons closer to fans.

Production Paradise: What sort of images would you like to see in the competition?

Shantesh Row: They say you don’t take a photograph, you make it. So in the spirit of that, I would like to see sports images that have “a connection”. I want to see images that get me inside the head of the people involved in the action. I want to see their eyes, their fire, their agony and ecstasy. In two words, real and raw is what would appeal to me the most.

Production Paradise: What are you looking for in a photographer?

Shantesh Row: Someone who can tell a story. And tell it well. A story that makes me understand what life (and sport) means to people. Burk Uzzle, the famous photographer said, “Photography is a love affair with life.” So, I like photographers who kindle this romance for life within me. To make me feel that sense of intimacy. And for me to add my own story to the story the photographer is narrating through his images.

Production Paradise: How important are online platforms for finding new talent? What platforms do you use to scout new photographers?

Shantesh Row: The short and simple answer. Very important. Online platforms are where life and stories are unfolding in the form of images. For me, Instagram is key. I believe it is the ideal platform to see new and exciting photographers tell their story the way they’d like to present it. Unfiltered and authentic. And then, of course, there’s always the impact of a community like Production Paradise.

Production Paradise: In what ways do you think Production Paradise Spotlight Awards could benefit photographers?

Shantesh Row: Any award is a validation of talent. What makes the Production Paradise Spotlight Awards different is that photographers get their work judged from the people who have the eye and nose to know what is commercially viable. It is not just a hat doffed to creativity and vision, it is also an opening of windows to new opportunities, work and ways of learning.

We thank Shantesh for taking the time to speak to us and giving such valuable insight. Now that you know what stands a better chance in the judge’s eyes, don’t hesitate to send in your best Sports shots and enter the Spotlight Awards.


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